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Destination Titan

2011 ,    »  -   63 Comments
Ratings: 5.09/10 from 11 users.

Destination TitanIt's a voyage of exploration like no other - to Titan, Saturn's largest moon and thought to resemble our own early Earth.

For a small team of British scientists this would be the culmination of a lifetime's endeavor - the flight alone, some 2 billion miles, would take a full seven years.

This is the story of the space probe they built, the sacrifices they made and their hopes for the landing. Would their ambitions survive the descent into the unknown on Titan's surface?

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63 Comments / User Reviews

  1. His Forever

    Wow! This one's great! I do so love space exploration. 10+ Very interesting.

  2. leonardobdas

    it is amazing. i didnt know they had pictures of titans surface.. wow.

  3. DeeJay Pickles

    YESSS i love space documentary's!!!

  4. Guest

    This doc made me think of TIME.
    Time sure does exist when we can know by three minutes when a space probe is going to land on some moon 2 billions miles away, 7 yrs later.
    Great doc

  5. His Forever

    Wow! We agree on something . . . . . . It's about TIME! :-)

  6. Noé Escalante

    Great, I felt shivers on my spine whith those photographs and it would have been great to be there on their room sharing that old bottle of scottish medicine. Cheers.

  7. Sieben Stern

    amazing! why can't humans do this instead of blowing each other up :/

  8. SaintNarcissus

    I actually got a bit choked up towards the end just thinking about the enormity of that experience - a human being making something with their own hands and seeing it transmit data and even photos all the way back home. Unreal. And to think, we are barely scratching the cosmic surface. My five year old is science obsessed and often our made up bedtime stories are his version of science fiction. he was loving having his mind blown by the fact that as huge as our solar system seems to us (I'm proud to say he knows all the planets in order and quite a few things about each of them), it is one of billions. He likes making up stories about humans (usually himself in the story) one day setting foot on another pristine earth-like planet, and we can maybe have a second chance and not wreck it. I hope he's right.

  9. Achems_Razor

    Its not the time, its the math! that we can know by three minutes, that time can exist when a space probe is going to land on Titan, 2 billion miles away, 7 years later.

  10. Guest

    Keep nurturing that interest in him!

  11. Guest

    Because we have to live on planet Conflict, not planet Earth... :(

  12. Sertsis

    I noticed how nothing was killed in the making of this amazing doc.

  13. Guest

    I am sure this makes a lot more sense to you than me. I do find it absolutely amazing though!
    Thank you for making it a little very little bit clearer.

  14. Paul Handover

    Spell-binding, from start to finish. Wonderful documentary.

  15. Pamela Quinn

    You have a smart child :)

  16. Greg_Mc

    Your son sounds like a very special little boy who possesses not only a vivid imagination (the creativeness of a young childs mind is .... well.... mind blowing at times) but the ability to conceptualize what he has learned and prove it by retelling it in his own words by making up his own, I assume relatively accurate, stories (the average kid doesnt have the mental capacity to properly do this thoroughly until approx age 8-10). If he is in fact coming up with the idea/story on his own to find another pristine earth-like planet that we could inhabit and not wreck thereby giving us a second chance then he not only has the mental capacity mentioned above but also a compassion for people as well as all living things. And that is something I sadly think is missing in a lot of the people (be they scientists, politicians etc) we average Joe's are entrusting our planets future to.
    So in closing do as Pysmythe says and nurture that interest in him, the rest of us are depending on him, lol hope that is not too much pressure to put on a 5 year old.

  17. Guest

    No, but plenty were killed while you were watching it. :(

  18. dekay49

    It really is amazing that people just accept things like this as fact without bothering to ask just a few simple questions. #1 Is it actually possible to carry enough fuel to make a two billion mile trip? #2 How much did the lead shielding weigh to protect the film for taking pictures when they got there? Sorry, but I find all this interplanetary travel and moon landing to be a bunch of monkey milk. There are too many things that just do not seem possible in my opinion.

  19. SillyWillyOneNut

    This goes to show that with mathematics anything is possible, the only limit lies within our understanding of the concepts, past, present and future. The math can blow us up, can save us, or can take us into the ultimate.

  20. Guest

    I'm convinced there is a gift for compassion (and related things like empathy, etc.) that probably isn't recognized or fostered nearly as much as it should be. Maybe people don't usually see as much potential value in that as they do a gift for math or music. Did you ever see a film called "Searching for Bobby Fischer" ? The child in that film reminds me a lot of Saint's, from the description.

  21. Les Ferguson

    Great doc. not just the science but the human emotions were great.

  22. Guest

    By the way, I watched the doc, and enjoyed it, too. Personally, I just love the name TITAN for a celestial body... Two hard punches that make you sit up and take notice! And I also really wish we could be doing a lot more of this kind of thing. If you'd asked me 25 years ago if we would've had a manned mission to Mars by now, I would've probably said yes. Now I'm just hoping to see it sometime before my life is over. H^ll, they could ask ME to go! I'd do it in a heartbeat...I think, lol.

  23. Guest

    So these professionals are being paid to perpetrate some kind of hoax? To what end? And I might point out that you don't need fuel to be burning for the ENTIRE duration of the trip... Once the ship has reached its maximum velocity in space, it continues at that velocity WITHOUT burning fuel, until you need to slow it down... As for lead-shielding, it doesn't weigh ANYTHING in space, and less on Titan than it does here.

  24. wheelnut53

    Bravo , I was actually on the edge of my seat the whole time . very good !

  25. Emanuele Pavone

    you are a dumb boy, dekay. a duuumb boy.

  26. Temy Beal

    This is absolutely beautiful and wonderful. So good to see humans do have some redeeming qualities. "Q" would be impressed.

  27. PaulGloor

    Fuel, minimal, the majority of the thrust is imparted on launch. Small, intermittent, bursts then accelerate the probe through a vacuum of space, where there is virtually no resistance, and its allowed to essentially drift on momentum for 7 years, possibly with minor corrections, to its very precisely calculated destination. Its a one way trip as well. The shielding wasn't lead, it was reentry shielding to protect it from the heat, most likely a ceramic material of some sort, its weight would mean nothing once it was in space and its mass would only impart momentum to help carry it 2 billion miles. Lead shielding, if there was any would have been a small package built around the sensitive instruments alone to conserve weight, possibly only a few ounces worth. The camera taking the pictures wouldn't have been using film, it would have been using an electronic sensor like in digital cameras.
    And for your information, all mammalian species produce milk, including monkeys. If you're talking about the other 'monkey milk'... well, you just stick to that while other people handle sensitive science equipment.

    Disclaimer: I am a layman, I draw my conclusions from what I have read and learned about engineering, physics, space and biology over time and consider them to be reasonably accurate interpretations.

  28. Guest

    Are YOU from the Continuum?! Oh, I hope not... :)

  29. Joe_NYC

    Take all the money from world's war machine and lobbyists and put into space exploration and nuclear fusion and we might still make it.

  30. Joe_NYC

    Gravity warps time and titan is smaller than earth. So, did it really take 3 earth minutes?

  31. Achems_Razor


    Yes, at the perspective of the Earth, 3 Earth minutes on Titan, same as on our Moon. But the process of getting there, another matter, time dilation and "on the electrodynamics of moving bodies"...Time is only relative from your vantage point.

  32. Guest

    I'm with you on that! The U.S. alone spends $1 trillion EVERY YEAR on defense. Does it really need to be that high? No way I'm believing it does, no matter what argument is used. I'm a fanatic on this subject, and my mind is absolutely closed for any further debate. We ought to get busy moving on from here NOW, not 200 years from now.

  33. His Forever

    Yes, Me too! I was thinking: "Oh! What if years and year and years of waiting comes to just static on a computer screen!?!" Phew!

  34. His Forever

    If they had faked this, they would have had pictures of some slime covered worm licking the camera or something a bit more dramatic than just "rocks" for the pictures. Not so impressed with your comment.

  35. wald0

    Newer probes utilize ion propulsion, fuel is not a concern accfept during launch. As for the radiation, come on man have you been under a rock? Images are beamed back via radio waves, if they are stored at all it is temporary and digital. The probe is not recovered so they carry no film as far as I know. The world is full of high powered telescopes, how would they hide a deception like this? Peoples lack of common sense, especially when it comes to scientific matters, never fails to amaze me.

  36. wald0

    Bravo, keep up the good work man. Your son sounds amazing and definitely gifted. Its good to see young people interested in real science and its good to see a parent nurture that kind of knowledge and compassion. My advise, not that appears you need any, would be to get him into amateur astronomy if that's possible. It is a fairly expensive hobby but relative to all these video games and cell phone gadgets that other kids waste their time with its about the same or cheaper. It would sustain his interest at the least, more than likely expand it greatly. Their are several free magazines that provide monthly astronomy and science news and articles of interest as well. Good luck and congratulations on having such a wonderful kid.

  37. Brian Keys

    Fascinating. Thank you as always!

  38. SaintNarcissus

    Wow, I'm extremely touched by all your comments. I guess I knew I had a smart kid, but I hadn't really thought about in the terms you folks have mentioned. @Greg, I had no idea about that statistic about typical age of that kind of conceptualization and stuff. @Wald0, we are trying to nurture his various areas of interest and it is admittedly hard to keep up with. His favorite magazines are Discover and Popular Science which he scrutinizes closely insisting I explain every last page usually. I do hope to save up for a decent am. telescope. However, he seems equally obsessed with archaeology, biology, astronomy...however its true he is also deeply sensitive and thinks about people and suffering and such. At heart I think he is sort of an engineer and problem solver. We spend and inordinate amount of time dreaming up and making stuff from junk - castles out of cardboard, primitive bows and arrows, bizzarre contraptions that usually according to him are green energy solutions. You name it, we can make some version of it with tape, crap from the recycling bin, and a set of drawings. Ha ha.

    He says he'll be the first person on Mars, which I've told him is quite possible! He also at times says he wants to be a farmer who gives all his food away because, as per our conversations about the economy and its wild imbalance and injustice, people shouldn't have to use money to get things like food. So anyway, I share your hope that the future of our race rests with people like my son. I hope there are a legion of young minds waiting to join him in a lab, on the streets, in the woods, etc.

  39. rogeridoo

    in reply to dekay49
    Very negative attitude you have decay49, take a chill pill. Did you actually watch all of the documentary? If you did then you would know the answer to your questions as they were in the said documentary. It's not rocket science....(that was just to try and cheer you up.). But then again as the saying goes- Amongst every bunch of roses you will always find a prick. >_<

  40. Demoorelizer


  41. everlaid

    use u'r head buddy. Are u trapped in your house or do u leave it every once and a while. Is it actually possible that u'r legs have enough energy to walk down the street? How much did the clothing that you are wearing weigh to protect U from the elements? Hmmm U still made the trip didn't U.

  42. KsDevil

    When do we start sending the hydrocarbon mining robots to titan so we can keep living like this?

  43. 0zyxcba1

    @ SaintNarcissus
    "My five year old is science obsessed and often our made up bedtime stories are his version of science fiction."

    I remember when I was your son's age. I was obsessed with 'magic' and my dad would bring home magic tricks for me to play with from a novelty store next to his barbershop. Then I discovered science.

    That was real magic!

    At Christmas, I set the house on fire with a chemistry set my dad gave me. A little fire, to be sure.

    Then when I was ten(I am giving away my age, now) I stood out on our front lawn and watched, along with all the neighborhood, as Sputnik passed overhead(yes, you could still see into the night sky when I was ten).

    I cried and begged my dad for a telescope, but we were poor. So I got an after-school job at the local grocery store(we still had grocery stores back then), saved my pennies for what seemed eternity and bought myself a
    3" reflector telescope, which I still have.

    I hope your son falls in love, just as I did.


  44. John Marus

    I'm not trying to be hurtful, but What's really amazing is that people believe their kids are special; the truth is very few humans are and it''s doubtful your child belongs to this group. Breeding is nothing special. And no, he isn't right, no second chance, the only reason we've been searching the solar system is to reap the rewards for our consumption planet. And one more thing, who would have thought there were so many "rocket scientists" here commenting, bunch of know-it-alls. Keep telling yourself you are special, your kids are special and what you do on this planet is special. The people who own you are amused for sure.

  45. John Marus

    at least your comments are realistic

  46. 0zyxcba1

    @ John Marus
    I'm not trying to be hurtful, but...

    If you are indeed "not trying to be hurtful," you might want to consider foregoing even the slightest chance of being 'hurtful':
    you might want to consider foregoing the pointing out the patently obvious!

    Guess what!

    We're all gown-ups, here. We all of us know where babies come from, and we all of us already know, "Breeding is nothing special." After all, we are a species almost seven billion strong, at last count.



  47. 0zyxcba1

    @ dekay49
    "Sorry, but I find all this interplanetary travel and moon landing to be a bunch
    of monkey milk."

    I think we ought all of us to be far more skeptical of just everything!

    I know I am.

    For example, I think you are "a bunch of monkey milk." ? A nothing. ? A bot, programmed to spew nothing save inanely dumb comments.


  48. Vladimir Bogdanov


  49. Guest

    @ John Marus
    Apparently, you aren't aware of the fact that greater exposure to mental stimulation creates larger and more complex and efficient neural connections in the brain of a growing child, making for better overall intellectual functioning, and can even do the same, though to a lesser degree, in adults who's brains have reached physical maturity. That is all I see that the know-it-all rocket scientists here have really alluded to: That, in point of fact, nearly every child has vast potential, if fortunate enough to be nurtured in an environment that promotes such growth. No one called this child the next Leonardo, but... who knows? One thing, however, is absolutely certain: If he had been vouchsafed to be raised by a cynical "realist" like yourself, he certainly wouldn't have stood any chance of it.

    You don't want to be hurtful? Then don't have any kids of your own! Because anyone who finds fault with parents who believe their children are special is someone who doesn't understand the first thing about nature, and why she has designed it to be so. And exceptional people are not sprung ready-made from the head of Zeus; the vast majority have loving parents who do as much as they can to make it possible for them to reach their full potential. It is our responsibility to help our children try to achieve their dreams, and not shrug them off as impractical just because a child may not have come out of the womb splitting the atom in 19 different dead languages, with a side-order of spectacular pole-vaulting skills, just so we'd be sure not to miss it. Everyone I have ever known has had a strong aptitude for something, and THAT is what we are really talking about here.

    And another thing: We are all aware here, thank you very much, of space exploration being ultimately about reaping rewards...THAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE WHOLE POINT OF IT! And is there something wrong with that? You speak of it as if you think the only justification for going to the moon or Mars would be some sort of overly-elaborate kegger.

    In closing, do something, why don't you, about all those shadowy people who "own" me. I lose so much sleep at night worrying about their amusement. Then I skulk about all day long, a ball of nerves and anger over how "fooled" I've been.

  50. Guest

    @ John Marus
    I've read your other posts, and, for what it's worth to you, find I pretty much agree with them. But you've pulled a chimp on this one, mister.

  51. Razael

    #1 You don't understand the concepts of math, energy or gravity very well. #2 You're a naive moron to the electronic revolution that started in the 1960's. Film...LOL

  52. Gregory B Piechowicz

    Pretty lousy space documentary. Too much about the people, the program itself, their lives, their feelings on the project. No information on Titan and what the mission was sent to do. I'd say skip this one, or watch the last 5 min or so, they show a picture from the probe but do not discuss, let alone mention, any information gathered. Usually I watch these things to GET information, now I have to do research about Titan to find out what the I should have learned in this film. Lousy.

  53. Xbow

    Did you see that stupid old broad? "I don't want nuclear out in space" Is she in favor of getting rid of the Sun?

  54. Cuneiform

    What's monkey milk and yes i believe extra terrestrials have been coming here long before the dawn of mankind ,beats the heck out of fantasy gods and fairy angels!

  55. Patrick Smith

    Hats off to the U.K. I am from the U.S. (The Great State of Maine) I have always known that the probe would work. It was the kids in school that made it happen. I think that robotic probes should be developed by youthfull people. Robots in space is the future. Let the schools build the rockets to the stars. (Better, Smarter, Faster, Less costly, and very cool.

  56. Stephen Slater

    thanks so much for your kind comments

  57. Stephen Slater

    in case you were wondering I produced and directed the film... it's nice to know some people appreciated it


    nice one


    nice film

  60. damdename

    Having worked at the Space Flight facility at JPL during the moon landing of Surveyor A, this doc. has special meaning for me.
    It is very well done; I whole heartedly recommend it for all.

    To Greg B:
    You might try some empathy exercises --- see if you can
    experience at least some of the overall emotion this creation projects.


  61. Marshall West

    Great doc with Massive Attack and Aphex Twin in the background.

  62. Guest

    enjoyed it . . . still can't process ejsm got precedence over tssm.

  63. rob z starr

    At the end, while Prof. J. Zarnecki was speaking about the probe, I would greatly appreciate knowing what the last music clip was from, ( the music lead into the ending credits ). It touched my soul - if I may be so bold.

    Back then, I honestly did not know that the Huygens probe was designed to operate only on its way in ( thought it was like Viking or a Mars Rover ).

    This documentary cleared up my misconceptions, gave depth and insight into what goes into a project such as this ( the ups & downs, last minute problems ) and, just what an amazing group of people that worked to put this together.

    Not that many documentaries I’ve watched explained this. Wonderfully done, beautiful music score & my Hats off to the producer and everyone who worked on this.

    rob in USA-N. CA

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